By Kathleen Naab
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says the dialogues with John the Baptist recounted in Luke's Gospel have "great contemporary relevance."
The Pope said this Sunday after praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square. Among the pilgrims was a group of reporters and editors from ZENIT, in the context of celebrations marking the agency's 15th anniversary. At the end of his address, the Holy Father mentioned the agency.
His reflections were dedicated to the advice John the Baptist gives in response to the question, "What must we do?" (Luke 3).
Regarding giving an extra tunic and food to those in need, the Pontiff observed: "Here we can see a criterion of justice animated by charity. Justice demands that the imbalance between those who have more than enough and those who lack the necessities be overcome; charity moves us to be attentive to others and to meet their needs rather than looking for justifications to defend our interests. Justice and charity are not opposed but both are necessary and complete each other."
Regarding the publicans and soldiers, the Baptist directs them not to change their jobs, but to do their duty.
"The prophet, in God's name, does not ask for exceptional actions, but first of all the honest performance of one's duties," the Pope said. "The first step toward eternal life is always the observance of the commandments. [...] [C]onversion begins with honesty and with respect for others: an instruction that holds good for everyone, especially those with greater responsibility."
The Bishop of Rome said that these dialogues, when taken together, remind us that God will judge us according to our deeds.
"It is there, in our conduct, that we must show that we are following his will," he said. "And precisely for this reason the Baptist's instructions are always relevant: even in our very complex world, things would go much better if everyone observed these rules of conduct."
The Pope's recognition of ZENIT came in the context of his greeting to Italian-speakers: "Lastly, I greet the Italian-speaking pilgrims, especially the faithful of Palazzo Adriano, Porto San Giorgio, Grottammare, San Lorenzello, Atella, Bucchianico and Valmontone. I greet the group of students from the De Merode Institute in Rome who are also with some fellow Australian students from Adelaide, as well as representatives of ZENIT religious news agency."
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On ZENIT's Web page:
Full text: www.zenit.org/article-36189?l=english